ART News


Exploring Shanghai's Contemporary Art Scene

1st December 2021 | Guest Writer: Camilla Fatticcioni
Shanghai is the pulsing heart of the Chinese contemporary art scene. Home of the famous Shanghai Art Biennale, Shanghai is also where several international art galleries have opened their spaces. When walking across the city centre, from the Rock Bund Art Museum and the Fosun Foundation, and reaching the city suburbs of the Pudong Area or the M50 neighbourhood, you'll find a vibrant art scene with new opportunities and emerging artists to know.

Today, the most significant art galleries and institutions in the West (Northern America and Europe) are moving east to open branch offices in China. They not only are attempting to import new international artists to cities like Shanghai and Beijing, but in turn, they are finding new talents. An example of the artistic migration to the east is that the famous Centre Pompidou is opening a space in Shanghai for the first time outside Europe. Other examples are White Cube, Almine Reach, Perrotin, and Lisson Gallery.

However, as part of the international art institutions of Shanghai, several local art galleries are shaping the Chinese Art Scene in the city. In this article, I will talk about the best 5 are galleries and art venues in this bustling Chinese metropolis.
"M50" or 50 Moganshan Road
View of M50, Shanghai
When speaking about the contemporary Chinese art scene, we must mention the 50 Moganshan Road or "M50", a modern art neighbourhood in Shanghai. The "M50" is home to over a hundred artists that have open studios and galleries. This Shanghai suburb is frequently likened to SoHo in New York and Beijing's 798 Art Zone. The art district has become a popular cultural destination for both locals and visitors from across the world. More than 50 galleries of this area feature a diverse group of young Chinese artists who operate in various styles and mediums, making "M50" a must-go for an Art Lover in Shanghai curious to know more about the Chinese contemporary art scene.
Studio Gallery Shanghai
Exhibition view, Studio Gallery, Shanghai, 2021 Copyright: Studio Gallery Shanghai
Settled in the heart of the city, in the Jing An District, Studio Gallery Shanghai is not just a gallery and a studio as suggested by its name. Instead, Studio Gallery focuses on the creative process, delving into and analysing the actual motivations behind art creation. Studio Gallery ultimately works with artists to help them understand the values generated in their works. The residency program is dedicated to creating a platform for artists to communicate their genuine working status and thoughts by reflecting on the unstable environment of modern art culture in the context of globalisation. Indeed, Studio Gallery also documents and disseminates the different working processes and methods that artists use and the topics that arise from their work.

ShanghArt Gallery

ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai. Copyright: ShanghART Gallery

ShanghART Gallery, one of the first contemporary art galleries in China, was established in 1996 by Swiss dealer Lorenz Helbling. ShanghArt Gallery has two venues: one in 50 Mogashan Road and the other in the new Shanghai art district West Bund Artistic Center. ShanghART has devoted the past two decades to developing contemporary art in China and maintaining tight and long-term collaborations with more than 60 international artists. In addition, ShanghART consistently participates in major international art fairs and partners with key art institutions in China and worldwide, maintaining the highest standards in presenting contemporary art exhibitions and projects. ShanghART Library, located in Shanghai's West Bund, has been opening its collections of art books to the public for a long time and collecting them since the gallery's inception. In addition, hundreds of catalogues about contemporary art are also on display and for sale at the gallery. SharghART gallery regularly hosts some of the most influential Chinese artists, like Xu Zhen, Xue Song, and Geng Jianyi.

How Art Museum (Shanghai)

How Art Museum, Shanghai. Copyright: How Art Museum, Shanghai

The HOW Art Museum in Shanghai's Pudong district was established by Chinese collector Mr Zheng Hao in 2017, as a new cultural institution, contemporary art collection, exhibition, research, and education centre. It is part of another museum, the HOW Art Museum (Wenzhou). The latter opened in 2013 and has since held 20 significant contemporary art exhibitions.

The HOW Art Museum in Shanghai has developed a pioneering model of operating as a "Night Art Museum," opening from 1 pm to 10 pm, and 10 am to 10 pm on the weekends and holidays. It also hosts one of the city's most important curatorial and residency programs.
The museum hosted exhibitions of several Chinese and international artists, such as Quayola, Aaajiao, Joan Cornellà, and Zhang Yu.

Exhibition view, Art Labor Gallery, Shanghai

ART LABOR Gallery was named the best gallery in Shanghai by Time Out magazine in 2014 and is considered one of Asia's greatest art galleries that focuses on teaching and promoting emerging contemporary artists from China. The gallery invites renowned artists to collaborate with younger and emerging ones on new artistic endeavours and projects.

ART LABOR GALLERY works with galleries and art professionals worldwide to bring a diverse range of artists from China and other nations. Indeed, the Gallery has been a vital part of the growth of the Shanghai art scene, which is now substantially more international in scope and has genuinely become Asia's art capital.

Shanghai is flourishing with contemporary art galleries and museums, which are a major part of its evolving culture and urban environment. The Chinese contemporary art market has long been established itself within China's borders and beyond. As a result, galleries, collectors, and auction houses worldwide are increasingly looking to open branch offices in the east. The rapid economic growth of China over the last two decades has had a significant impact on the global art market's centre of gravity, causing a slow shift from the major capitals of the global West, such as New York and London, to the Asian metropolises such as Shanghai and Beijing.

About the Writer
Camilla is a sinologist and photographer passionate about Chinese contemporary art and culture. She received her BA in Chinese from the University Ca' Foscari in Venice, Italy and an MA in Chinese Art History from the China Academy of Art, China. Camilla is the author of the blog


"Literally 'as far as I know', Per quel che ne so io is my dream to describe Asia with my own words through art and culture. I am a traveller, a China observer and a contemporary art lover. This blog was initially a mere diary of my first experience in China, but now is a key to understanding Asia from another perspective."
Camilla Fatticcioni